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PLAY BALL: A Look Ahead at the New Season

By Judah Goldemberg

With Opening Day just around the corner, MLB fans are very excited to see what this season will bring. Last season saw milestones in Aaron Judge making history, hitting 62 home runs and being crowned the AL MVP, as well as baseball legend Albert Pujols hitting his 700th home run, capping off a legendary career. This past postseason also proved to be electrifying, with the Philadelphia Phillies shocking the world by making it to the World Series, just to fall short to the dominant Houston Astros. This upcoming season looks to add to the excitement of last year. Here are my predictions for the major award winners.

American League MVP: Julio Rodriguez, OF, Seattle Mariners

Coming off of an American League Rookie of the Year award, Julio Rodriguez looks to continue his dominance as one of the best outfielders in the majors. At only 22 years old, Rodriguez can make a huge jump going into his sophomore season for the Seattle Mariners. Last year, Rodriguez hit 28 home runs and 75 RBIs, being selected to an All-Star team. He also helped lead the Mariners to their first playoff appearance since 2001, which was one of the longest standing playoff droughts in American sports. This offseason, Rodriguez earned himself a contract extension worth an initial guarantee of $210 million over the course of 12 years. Rodriguez can prove himself to be one of the best outfielders in the MLB this year, as well as lead the promising Mariners squad to another playoff appearance.

Runner Up: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

National League MVP: Juan Soto, OF, San Diego Padres

Last season, the Padres shocked Major League Baseball when they traded top prospects in exchange for superstar Washington Nationals outfielder, Juan Soto. Soto made an immediate impact on the already star-studded roster of the San Diego Padres. With shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. suspended, Soto’s presence on the team was felt even more. The Padres made it all the way to the National League Championship, before falling short to the Phillies. Juan Soto is one of the best hitters in the major leagues, as he has already won a batting title, and a three time Silver Slugger award winner. This season Soto looks to continue his dominance with an elite supporting cast around him.

Runner Up: Francisco Lindor, SS, New York Mets

American League Cy Young: Alek Manoah, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

While there are many other star pitchers in the American League, such as Gerrit Cole, Shohei Ohtani, and Jacob DeGrom, Alek Manoah has already proven himself to be one of the top pitchers. Manoah posted a 2.24 ERA last season, along with a 16-7 record last year. Manoah is my favorite for this award not only because of his performances last season, but his excellent outings in Spring Training so far. If the Blue Jays continue their success, Manoah could run away with this award.

Runner Up: Jacob DeGrom, SP, Texas Rangers

National League Cy Young: Sandy Alcantara, SP, Miami Marlins

It is not uncommon that there is back-to-back National League Cy Young Award winners, as it has been done three times in the past ten years, with Jacob DeGrom (2018-2019), Max Scherzer (2016-2017) and Clayton Kershaw (2013-2014). In my opinion, it is likely to happen again this year. Sandy Alcantara of the Miami Marlins won the NL Cy Young unanimously last year, leading the league in both complete games and shutouts. Although the Marlins squad is not extremely talented, they have a good amount of young talent with players like Alcantara, as well as shortstop Jazz Chisholm Jr. Alcantara can put himself up there with great players such as DeGrom, Scherzer, and Kershaw if he wins another Cy Young this season.

American League Rookie of the Year: Gunnar Henderson, SS, Baltimore Orioles

21 year old Gunnar Henderson made his major-league debut last year, hitting four home runs and eight RBI’s. Henderson is easily the clear favorite for this award, as there is not many other elite rookies in the American League. Henderson is a very solid player on the young Orioles squad. The Orioles could look to make a playoff run this season if Henderson plays up to his potential.

Runner Up: Anthony Volpe, SS, New York Yankees

National League Rookie of the Year: Francisco Alvarez, C, DH, New York Mets

Francisco Alvarez will come into this season ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the MLB according to MLB Pipeline. The Venezuelan born catcher has the potential to be another one of the recent international rookies to come into the league and make an instant impact. Alvarez can fill a hole in the talented Mets roster at the catcher position. Additionally, Alvarez has an excellent swing at the plate. While there has been some concern about his defensive ability, Alvarez has been improving his framing ability in the minors. Overall, if Alvarez continues to improve behind the plate, and continues his hitting dominance, he can become an All-Star in the MLB.

Runner Up: Jordan Walker, OF, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals

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